Northwest Plans System Improvements, Pipeline Expansion
Northwest Pipeline put shippers on notice last week that it
plans to undertake a system enhancement program and will begin
taking requests for a pipeline expansion project. The enhancement
program, which will involve adding pipeline looping and
compression, is designed in part to resolve a supply displacement
problem stemming from an expiring contract.
The PITCO/PanAlberta contract covers 144 MDth/d of displacement
capacity that operates under operational flow order. Under the
contract, Northwest can requires PanAlberta to deliver up to the
full amount of gas into its system in order to provide displacement
services. The contract is due to expire on Oct. 31, 2003.
Northwest and its shipper advisory board have been discussing
potential ways to significantly reduce its existing reliance upon
displacement for north flow transportation services in the Ignacio,
CO, to Stanfield, OR, corridor.
The notice sent out to shippers last week states that as a
partial solution to the displacement contract expiring, "Northwest
has identified an economically viable system expansion project that
would provide additional physical capacity to resolve a significant
portion of the displacement capacity issue. Northwest is pursuing
customer support for this project on a rolled-in basis because the
system expansion will partially replace displacement capacity with
physical capacity in order to improve service reliability and
flexibility for existing shippers." It added that any north flow
expansion capacity added between Green River, WY, and Stanfield
would be "reserved for the contemplated partial displacement fix
for the benefit of existing shippers."
A company spokesman would not say how much capacity would be
added to accomplish physical northward flow or how much the project
would cost. "Right now our enhancement project has not been fully
defined," said John Smith, director of regulatory affairs. "The
only purpose for this notice is to put shippers on notice that we
would be evaluating requests for capacity based on this enhancement
being in place. It would include some pipeline additions and
compression to eliminate displacement...
"In addition to this system enhancement at some point in the
future we're going to have an open season for other shippers that
may want to expand," Smith added. "We haven't decided when that's
going to be. The reason we are doing that is because construction
costs can be reduced if we do it all at the same time."
Smith said once Northwest completes a system design that will
enable physical northward flow, it would begin taking requests for
expansion services for northward flow and install facilities that
accomplish both needs.
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